Background: Since more than 50 years glucocorticoids represent the milestone in the
treatment of inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, many patients
with RA present a circadian rhythm in symptoms severity with a significant worsening in the morning,
that correlates with cyclic changes in circulating hormones and cytokines. Classical steroid therapy
given in the morning fails to intercept this pathophysiological phenomenon. In the last years, a
novel formulation of prednisone has been developed in order to better fit these variations, improve efficacy
and minimize adverse events (chronotherapy). This modified-release (MR) prednisone is administered
in the evening at 10.00 p.m. and absorbed after about 4 hours.
Methods: In this article, we reviewed the recent clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of MR prednisone
in RA patients, including two randomized controlled double-blind clinical trials Circadian Administration
of Prednisone in Rheumatoid Arthritis – 1 (CAPRA-1) and CAPRA-2 and other nonrandomized
observational studies. Results: According to the available evidence, MR prednisone
seems effective in ameliorating morning stiffness in RA patients.
Conclusion: In conclusion, the use of MR prednisone in the treatment regimen could be a costeffective
choice in a significant proportion of RA patients, particularly in those with a clinical phenotype
characterized by morning stiffness or morning recrudescence of pain. With regards to the safety,
MR prednisone adverse events profile does not differ from that of IR glucocorticoids.